The Witch Hunt Has Begun…

I had the displeasure of watching C-SPAN today, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s Judiciary Sub-Committee on  Administrative Oversight.  He and his colleagues (“The Left”) have decided that a Bi-Partisan committee should investigate whether or not the Bush Administration’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) violated the law when they gave legal advice regarding interrogation techniques used following the 9/11 attacks.

I listened intently as Chairman Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Senator’s Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) all talked about how appalled they were at the actions of the previous administration, and how they were not there to criticize the other side, but merely wanted answers to some questions surrounding the conduct of certain individuals during the post 9/11 era of the Administration.  They were all “very” supportive of a bi-partisan investigation, yet, the only Republican representative present was Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

So as the meeting started we heard from Chairman Whitehouse, then Senator’s Graham, Leahy, Feinstein, and Feingold.  So viewers were provided with the Democrat side of things, the Republican side, then the Democrat side, the Democrat side and finally the Democrat side.

Way to go on that bi-partisanship Mr. Chairman!

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James A. Restucci is the author of this blog. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Internal License.

22 Responses to The Witch Hunt Has Begun…

  1. AvatarTVNews says:

    I’ll pass on the TV show, I’ve been through the real thing.

  2. AvatarJason Raines says:

    TVNews,
    Your last comment sounds like you are coming unglued. If torture was so absolutely necessary for our national existence, then why don’t we do it in all of our prisons all across America?

    The reason they chose Gitmo, Iraq, Egypt, Syria and other places to conduct the torture is to try to evade our laws and treaty obligations.

    I also disagree with your assertion that our military leaders are naive in their belief that torture is wrong. I suppose they just don’t know all the information you do; or are not willing to take strong actions to defend the nation.

    You are welcome to join me in “my reality” anytime. Until then, keep watching your “TV reality” shows.

  3. AvatarTVNews says:

    Jason,

    So let me get this straight. Just to make sure there is no misunderstanding.

    You would trade a seven digit instant death toll, the city and all the pain, suffering, cancers and long drawn out deaths that come after rather then waterboard (or worse) a bad guy with the location and keys to the bomb?

    Jason, your view of reality is horribly distorted. What I said earlier about you not being cut out for the cloak and dagger game is an understatement.

    If you were, and a bomb went off while you were talking nice with the person that set it and could give us the information to stop it, I would be one of the millions calling for your head.

    I damn sure don’t want you in charge of my security. And now you can understand my concern about the current administration. According to all their press, they think just like you do.

    Personally, I think you should sit down and reevaluate your priorities. One man’s comfort during questioning does not balance with a city filled with people. I find it stunning that you would admit to believing that. How you can make that equation balance is beyond me.

    There are no Marquis of Queensbury rules here. If the terrorist were caught in the act trying to set off the device, I would like to assume that you have no problem with shooting the terrorist to stop it.

    If the weapon was being delivered on an incoming bomber I am willing to bet you would have no problem shooting it down and acting against the nation that sent it to ensure they don’t send another one. And that step will kill thousands if we don’t go nuclear.

    But you would let one terrorist sit in complete comfort, holding a civilized conversation with interrogators while the timer runs out hundreds of thousands of lives. Including the lives of people you love.

    Jason, that is one very warped view. What makes this really scary is that yours is not an isolated view.

    One thing is absolutely sure. It will only take one attack for all your stunningly naive kinder, gentler rules to get tossed as the complete nonsense they are. A few horribly naive souls will hang on to their views, but the vast majority will see the light and do what needs to be done.

    Next time I see David, I’ll ask him about that and what he considers torture. But other then that I’m not interested in what other people would do or think. I can pick up a news paper to find that out.

    Right now, this was all about you and your reality.

    Oh yeah, it already was a real world world scenario. The only difference is the scale was not nuclear. Wait another 20 or 30 years and I’ll tell you about it.

  4. AvatarJason Raines says:

    TVNews,

    To be extremely blunt…torture is wrong in all circumstances.

    Despite what climatic circumstance is contrived for “24” or a good Tom Clancy novel, it is not the situation we are facing.

    Here is something else to think about: General David Petraeus, former commander in Iraq, is opposed to torture. Many other military officers are as well. Here is a link to a YouTube video of retired officers speaking on the issue:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bx2Nky_PR1c

  5. AvatarTVNews says:

    Jason,

    Stop ducking the questions. It is a very plausible real world scenario. So tell us where you stand on the above outlined questions.

    – Where would you have US government interrogators draw the line to save millions of lives including your family members?
    – Does the will to live held by those about to be incinerated have any bearing on the limits you set?
    – Do the survivors that may not even get a funeral have any say in the matter?
    – Are you willing to trade an entire city and all the economic and social calamity that would ensue afterwords for your standards?

    Believe me, this is a real world threat. The weapon was not a nuke, but the potential for damage was approaching that range. Wait another 20 – 30 years for things to start to come out.

    If I’m still alive, I’ll expect you to present yourself for an “I told you so” conversation.

    In the mean time, tell us where you draw the line.

  6. AvatarJason Raines says:

    TVNews,
    I differ with you about your suggested “practical, real world scenario”. It does not seem like a realistic situation based on what I have read. I would suggest reading “Inside the Wire: A Military Intelligence Soldier’s Eyewitness Account of Life at Guantanamo”.

    Despite years of interrogations, the detainees have not provided us with the location of the weapons of mass destruction you mentioned in your hypothetical question.

    However, some good intelligence has been gained from interrogations, as documented in this book. However, not all techniques worked. Torture tends to yield bad information, as the person will lie and say just about anything to make it stop.

    The Army Field Manual does allow for deception and other techniques to be applied. While I think the right thing to do is to tell the truth, if telling a lie will save peoples lives, it would have to be on the table.

    There are plenty of tools in the kit bag, and a place for aggressive pursuit of information. My concern is that we do it in an effective way, without compromising our values.

  7. AvatarTVNews says:

    So Jason, you are real good at arguing your theories on an academic level. Now it is time to move out of the lecture hall and into the lab. I want to see how you apply those theories in a practical real world scenario.

    Let us get back to the up-til-now-ignored ticking nuke scenario outlined above. What would you have US Government interrogators do to someone in order to get the information that would stop the attack? Where would you draw the line when losing a city full of US citizens is a clear and present danger?

    I especially want to know how you reconcile your idea of right and wrong with the probable millions of overwhelmingly conflicting views held by those about to be incinerated. (If they had the chance to have a say in the matter.)

    Do your high minded ideals over ride the wills to live of a couple million people?

  8. AvatarJason Raines says:

    Eagle Watch,
    I haven’t seen the CIA memos, but I have read some of the DoD, State Department, and White House Counsel memos (all formerly classified) regarding EIT. The Supreme Court ruled detainees had to be afforded Geneva Convention protections despite the previous Administration’s legal opinion otherwise.

    It is an inconvenient fact that it was, and to some extent, still is our policy. That does not mean it stands up in a court of law, or in Congress.

    Watching the extreme lefties try to have people like John Yoo or Donald Rumsfeld arrested and tried for “crimes” is truly frightening. I think they were doing their jobs the best way they knew how. While I disagree with their positions on interrogations, I don’t want to see anyone punished like a criminal for doing what their higher ups told them was legal. (Yes, John Yoo should have known better, but he was telling his bosses what they wanted to hear.)

    In this respect, what Jim rightfully calls a “Witch Hunt” should be called off immediately.

  9. AvatarEagleWatch says:

    Fair enough. Enemy combatants in-theater (and therefore not subject to Constitutional considerations) default to Geneva Conventions — out of uniform agents provocateur may be shot as spies.

    That answers part of it.

    Again, conflating EIT with torture because you consider them to be, doesn’t make it so. Have you read the CIA memos that President Obama released? I have them (PDF files) if you would like to go over them. These techniques were not considered to be torture by the United States government at the time they were used. That is the inconvenient fact.

    There are no classified versions of FM 2-22.3 (HUMINT Collection) and FM 34-52 (HUMINT Collector Operations). What you see is what you get, and they don’t allow as much leeway as we do with our police departments, but there’s a reason for that — detainees with promise of actionable intelligence are handed off to intellignece officers for further processing (until President Obama reduced the whole exercise to booking and arraignment).

    Anyway, you have made your position clear, and I thank you for that.

  10. AvatarJason Raines says:

    Eagle Watch,
    You may have missed some comments I made on a prior post, but I am for the Constitution of the United States, and the rule of law. In instances where the Constitution does not apply, the Geneva Convention treaties outline how we are to treat prisoners. The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld these principles.

    These principles apply to so-called “enemy combatants” in theater. The Supreme Court has ruled on this issue, and I agree with their decision.

    The Army Field Manual is an unclassified guideline whose application makes sense to many interragators. As far as non-DOD personnel are concerned, whatever manual they use should be consistent with the principles I have already mentioned.

    Should we stop taking prisoners? Negotiable area between catch & release and all KIAs? Let’s get serious about this:

    There are more effective measures to get actionable intelligence than engaging in torture. I encourage you to Google “Matthew Alexander torture”.

    Torture has consequences. When it becomes known what happened, it turns others against us. Abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo are a major motivating factor for many foreign fighters in Iraq.

    If you capture 100 people, and one of them is a terrorist, do you support the torture of all of them? I think most Americans would say no.

  11. AvatarTVNews says:

    I’ll bring it up and it is not an insult. This is what we call a reality check.

    Libby, Jason and any other anti-torture people that care to chime in,

    You have a terrorist in your custody. You know he left a ticking nuke somewhere in the same large city with your spouse, children, parents, grand parents, etc.

    How long are you going to play around with the polite conversation? Are you willing to sacrifice a city full of people along with your loved ones in the name of playing by the Marquis of Queensbury rules?

    How do you think the residents of that city, your loved ones included, would vote on that question? Do the opinions held by those people even matter in the equation?

    I really want to hear the your thoughts on these questions.

  12. AvatarLibby says:

    Eagle Watch,
    Although you were asking Jason, I’ll tell you what I’m against and what I’m for…I’m against these hearings investigating the CIA. I believe I made that clear in another posting. I’m against discussing what is and what is not considered “torture” at this time. I’m for what Sen. Joe Leiberman iterated yesterday in an MSNBC interview: This is not the time to focus on what was done in the past. The Obama admin. has put an end to using EIT with a directive from the White House. So let’s stop the “Witch Hunt” right now. Shame on the Dems. for convening these hearings in the first place. And shut up, Dick Cheney. Let sleeping dogs lie. That’s what I’m FOR.

  13. AvatarEagleWatch says:

    Jason, I won’t insult you with the ticking timebomb question (you are confronted with an operative with knowledge of a WMD somewhere in the same city as your family) — it’s one of those “have you stopped beating your wife” questions. I will, however ask you how you would handle intelligence gathering from prisoners? Would I, as a non-DoD operator in the field, nontheless be bound by the Army Field Manual? Or by my own agency’s (vetted) procedures? Is an enemy combatant held in-theater subject to the Constitutional protections of an American citizen safe at home? Should we stop taking prisoners? Is there no negotiable area between catch-and-release and all KIAs?

    We know what you’re against … what are you for?

  14. Avatarjimr says:

    With all due respect Jason, can either of us really comment on what level of treatment the detainees got? I mean we are hearing it from filtered sources, and news media. I mean have you read any of the 302 Reports? I know I haven’t, and I don’t believe that have been released to the public as of yet.

    Since you used the example of tear gas, let me give you another example. I can remember one day in Fort Benning, GA (Harmony Church, Infantry AIT) back in the early 80’s – It seems that some of the guys in my platoon weren’t eating fast enough for the Drill, it was lunch time, and unfortunately some of them were taking their sweet time. So the Drill decided (he didn’t bother to tell us) that if he finished his meal and walked outside and the rest of the platoon wasn’t standing in formation, that he would punish us, so the minute he walked outside of the Mess Hall, he proceeded to scream at us, then he issued those famous commands, “half-right…FACE, and “Front Leaning Rest Position…MOVE” – However this time he didn’t have do push-ups, instead he just had us stay there, well if you know anything about Georgia in the summer, then you know that the asphalt under our hands was burning hot by noon, and I am I not ashamed to say that it hurt like a son-of-a-gun, he kept us in this position until the stragglers came outside to join the formation, it was probably only 5 minutes, but by then the damage had been done, 6 guys went on sick call that day for minor burns, and I spent the night with my buck knife picking pieces of asphalt out of my hand.

    Some say that this was torture others say it was to harden us, I am not so sure they aren’t both right.

    As someone who has taken real-world prisoners before, I can tell you, at least in the units I was in, although we didn’t treat them with kid gloves, we did offer them every courtesy and respect of an EPW, regardless of whether or not they were trying to kill us minutes before.

    I never did get to visit the NPWM, but it’s something I would definitely like to do in the future, thanks for suggesting it.

  15. AvatarJason Raines says:

    Jim,
    I too have knowledge of SERE training. While I agree it is no picnic for the guys going through it; it is also not the same treatment the detainees get.

    I used the example of how tear gas was applied in Waco as compared to the training exposure level soldiers receive as an example of how different the training environment is to real world application.

    Detainees’ treatment is orders of magnitude different from what our military servicemen experience with regards to “waterboarding”.

    Humane treatment of prisoners is something I think would be universally accepted as the standard for our U.S. military forces.

    If you are ever in south Georgia, it is worth the trip to visit Andersonville, and the National Prisoner of War Museum. There was a movie made about the Civil War prison at Andersonville as well.

    http://www.nps.gov/ande/

  16. Avatarjimr says:

    Jason, I would disagree with you, as I have personal knowledge of the training our SOCOM guys go through in SERE and it’s no picnic, and how you can equate it to “merely having water splashed on your face” is beyond me.

  17. Avatarjimr says:

    Libby, I did watch the entire hearing, and I listened to all of the statements, including Ali’s – it’s strange how one side hears one thing, and the other side hears another.  It’s funny you picked up on that, as that seems to be the headlines today, that somehow Dr. Rice is now the scapegoat or should I say sacrificial lamb.

    My point was that this witch hunt is not about finding the truth as much as it’s about political revenge, plain and simple.  Even former supervisory agent Ali Fuwon (sp?) said, that he hopes that his statements are not used in a partisan manner.

    It was apparent that Senator Durbin didn’t hear that, as he made a brief appearance, asked his obvious partisan question about the procedures for notifying congress about Intelligence operations, to protect his party, and left.

    I found it funny that both sides used Abraham Lincoln for their argument.  One (Sen. Whitehouse) used it to prove his point about how he [Lincoln] outlawed punishment of Civil War soldiers, and the other (Sen. Graham) used it to point out that Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus.

    I realize there is a contentious debate about what is torture and what is not; however that was not my point of this post.

    I think Sen. Lindsay Graham said it best when he said that although he has the utmost respect for Mr. Fuwon (sp?) – he knows that his [Fuwon] testimony is not the whole story.  And if we are going to “move forward” on this issue, then we need to insure we get the “whole story”

  18. AvatarEagleWatch says:

    The very reason that Europe (and most Americans) have the luxury of a warm-and-fuzzy view of the world is being dismantled by those so blessed.

    Naivete isn’t bliss, it’s dangerous in high places.

  19. AvatarJason Raines says:

    Eagle Watch,
    While some of our special ops guys go through the motions of experiencing waterboarding, it is not the same treatment given to the “terrorists”.

    As a comparison, most everyone that has been in the service has been through CS exposure, when training with gas masks. Does this mean troops know what it is like to have tear gas fill their homes? At Waco, the government flooded tear gas into the Branch Davidian compound for HOURS before the place burned up. Most troops spend 30 seconds to a couple of minutes being exposed to tear gas in training. Does this mean no one is harmed from tear gas exposure?

    Merely having water splashed on your face in training is not what is taking place in the real world application of these policies.

    In the middle ages they didn’t call it waterboarding. They called it “Water Torture”. There is a reason for that.

    I don’t want hearings, or punishments handed out to the guys who implemented policies of the past. However, defending torture will not help the situation any more than the loony lefties with their hearings.

  20. AvatarTVNews says:

    The only time we have true bipartisan cooperation in the legislative branch is when someone flies airplanes into US Buildings. The President is not going to end the debate and saber rattling at former Bush administration officials. All that noise makes the former President and Republicans look bad and hurts their chances of getting elected in 2010.

    Based on his surprisingly wise decision to fight the release of interrogation photos to the ACLU, it is obvious now that he will milk the political cows for all they are worth stopping the process just short of an actual court case. And he will allow this in spite of the damage it is doing to the country.

    With this President, the leftist agenda comes first. The country, our troops and the general welfare of the state all take a back seat the agenda.

    We get what we vote for…

  21. AvatarLibby says:

    I too watched part of the hearings on C-Span. Did you happen to see the testimony of the lawyer who was appointed by Condeleeza Rice to evaluate and advise her as to whether she should go along with the Enhanced Interrogations Techniques? He advised her that he thought the methods would be illegal. She didn’t take the advice, of course.

    And did you happen to hear the testimony of the FBI agent who’s identity was hidden behind a screen because he is covert? That was interesting I thought.

    And a word to Eagle Watch, if I may. You keep insisting that waterboarding is not torture making the point that our own military have been subjected to it as part of their training in order to be able to resist any extreme methods that an enemy might use upon them in order to extract information…This evidently is the proof that it isn’t torture. Do you think perhaps that the fact that the soldiers who were subjected to the process were probably aware that they would not be drowned by their own military, and therefore this might alleviate their level of “stress”? The “terrorists” who were subjected to the process had no such reassurance. Just trying to make a point.

  22. AvatarEagleWatch says:

    I would hope some of the thousands of our own special operators could testify about their preparation, which included being subjected to these very techniques (including waterboarding) as part of their resistence training.

    I would also hope that President Obama can bring Senator Reid to his senses in time to put a stop to this. What about “Banana Republic” appeals to these people?